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The Ideologue's Tunnel Vision

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Part I -- Ideologues

An ideologue is someone who sees the world in the limiting terms of a doctrine or dogma. It is limiting because the human world does not operate or evolve according to any one dogma. Therefore ideologues must wear blinders that result in tunnel vision -- a tunnel which, like a Procrustean bed, tries to force the world to fit their chosen ideology.

There are hundreds of ideologies out there, both religious and secular, and in every case the resulting tunnel vision eventually results in absurdities -- claims about the world that, seen from outside of the ideology, make little or no sense. So it is with the ideology of Zionism and the doctrinaire interpretations its adherents make about their own behavior and the behavior of others who oppose them. One such proponent of Zionist ideology is David Harris, the Executive Director of the American Jewish Committee (AJC). The AJC describes its mission as "to enhance the well-being of the Jewish people and Israel." This is a point of dogma for the Zionists -- that the well-being of the Jewish people and Israel are bound together. I am often confronted with Harris's ideological take on events because, curiously, he has me on his mailing list. Part II -- David Harris's View of Ongoing Violence in Israel On 11 October 2015 Harris posted an essay on the ongoing violence in Israel-Palestine. It is entitled "Attacks Against Israelis: The World's Silence Is Deafening" and the entire piece can be found both on the Huffington Post and The Times of Israel. The essay seeks to promote a picture of Israeli victimhood. As such it opens up a clear window on the Zionist's view of the present situation and therefore is worth taking a look at. What I am going to do is take representative segments from Harris's essay and show how the grievances he reserves for Israelis seem somehow wrong when considered from outside the Zionist perspective. Indeed, as Harris's complaint about the "world's silence" in the face of violence against Israelis suggests, for many people his picture of Israeli victimhood is quite untenable. Because his ideology will not allow him to consider the possibility of Israel's responsibility for the present violence, the world's "silence" leaves him aggrieved and bewildered. Here then are some representative parts of Mr. Harris's essay. Harris starts this way: "For days now, I have been watching in dismay as Israeli citizens face random attacks, some deadly, by Palestinian assailants on the streets of their cities and towns. Children have been orphaned, parents have lost children, and some survivors are doubtless scarred for life." It is true that individual Israelis have been hurt or killed in the recent past in apparently random attacks by Palestinians. Unfortunately, this is as far as Harris's understanding goes. Thus, his tunnel vision renders invisible other perspectives, such as the possibility that dead and injured Israeli Jews, like the Palestinians themselves, are victims of the aggressive Zionist society and culture they live in, the government and laws they obey, and the racist policies they tolerate. Given this perspective, the present Palestinian violence becomes understandable as a product of anger and frustration caused by Israeli occupation and long-standing discrimination against Israeli Arabs. There has been no need for an indoctrination of hate by Hamas or any other religiously inspired group (a favorite red herring of Zionist ideologues) to explain Palestinian actions. Israeli policies and practices in and of themselves are quite sufficient. Harris cannot perceive, much less understand, this perspective. Yet, in ever greater numbers, the people outside of Israel can see that any portrayal of Israeli victimhood is in conflict with an objective reading of the history of the Israeli-Palestinian struggle. David Harris continues, "And I've been wondering, not for the first time, what it would take for the world to wake up and acknowledge ... that Israel, the lone liberal democracy in the Middle East, is facing violence that must be condemned unequivocally, and that it, like any other nation, has the obligation to defend itself." This "wondering" is also a product of Mr. Harris's constricted view. There has never been any Zionist complaints, from Harris in particular, about the world's silence while the Palestinians experience "liberal" Israel's ethnic bias and occupation. Nor did he and his fellows take note of the world's silence when Palestine's own 2006 democratic election was suppressed by Israel and its American ally. It is exactly this silence in the face of Palestinian suffering that has left Israeli power in place and allowed for its oppressive use. Yet this particular silence has no place in Harris's ideologically constructed world. Harris goes on, "It's striking how ... some otherwise intelligent and thoughtful people in government, media, or think tanks, just shut down their critical faculties. Instead, they resort to a Pavlovian response mechanism that essentially rejects any possible legitimacy for the Israeli position and blindly defends whatever Palestinian narrative comes along."

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Lawrence Davidson is a history professor at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. He is the author of Foreign
Policy Inc.: Privatizing America's National Interest
; America's
Palestine: Popular and Offical Perceptions from Balfour to Israeli
Statehood
; and Islamic Fundamentalism. His academic work is focused on the history of American foreign relations with the Middle East. He also teaches courses in the history of science and modern European intellectual history.

His blog To The Point Analyses now has its own Facebook page. Along with the analyses, the Facebook page will also have reviews, pictures, and other analogous material.

Lawrence Davidson Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

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